Appropriate Attire Required! (Matthew 22:1-14)

Have you ever been invited to a wedding that was a “Black Tie” only? If you are not aware, a “Black Tie” invitation means a tuxedo must be worn, with a black tie. If you are like me, a mere common man, who’s friends and acquaintances are also common folk, then you have not had too many “Black Tie” wedding invitations. Don’t sweat not being invited to many of these swanky events, because for most of them, you have to provide your own attire, which can be quite expensive.

For a guy who seldom wears a suit and tie anymore, a wedding wearing a tuxedo I have to rent, would be personally torturous, and prohibitive if I had to rent a tux with my own money. What sort of family requires a dress code to celebrate their marriage? As it turns out, historically, much of the world, especially in the Hebrew culture.

In Matthew 22:1-14, we find a king inviting his family friends and acquaintances to his son’s wedding. The only problem is that those invited were not willing to come. The king tried again, by letting them know this wedding would be spectacular. Of course, he reported it would be a massive meat party, being he killed oxen and fat cattle for the feast.

If I’d been invited, the king could have counted on me to be the first one there. You don’t have to beg me to come to a BBQ with meat everywhere. But alas, the king’s invitees responded so shamefully, that he sent his armies to destroy them. The king then pulls a bold move, he sends out his servants to invite anyone they could get to come in. His inviting whomever meant rich and poor, bad and good people, many who would never be able to afford a wedding garment.

Yes, requiring a specific garment for a wedding feast was customary in Christ’s culture. In fact, In Matthew 22:11-12 we read…

(Matthew 22:11-12) “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.

Although the wedding garment was not a “Black Tie” kind of outfit, it did require  more money than some could afford, and many would find stretching, concerning their lack of expendable income; especially among the crowd the king’s servants brought in.

In order to deal with this reality, those responsible for putting on the wedding, usually provided the wedding garment. The purpose was two-fold. In the first place, no one would be prohibited from attending if they wanted, due to a lack of proper attire, for whatever reason. Secondly, everyone would look similar, where the focus and attention would be on the bride and groom, usually dressed differently, rather than people desiring to dress in a manner that made them standout.

It is for this reason we witness the king react so strongly in Matthew 22.

(Matthew 22:13-14) Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In considering the man who is not clothed in the proper wedding garment, we must understand that he had refused to put it on, because all who are invited receive a wedding garment either with their invitation or at the door. Not only was he refusing to honor the king’s son, by drawing attention to himself, he refused the rule of his king.

We understand this is a parable concerning the kingdom of God and how we are to relate to God, as He commands us to relate to Him.

We are grateful that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is love. He expresses His love in longsuffering and desires to forgive man, through the blood of Christ, as He is “not willing that any would perish, but all would come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9-10). In the gospel we are given an invitation to a wedding we do not desire to be at. This invitation has 3 requirements for admission and one guarantee if we enter in.

  1. Repent (by turning from our old life and turning towards God)
  2. Walk in faith (our faith is in Christ’s cross and resurrection to save, not our works)
  3. Put on the wedding garment we are given.

What is this wedding put on? The righteousness of Christ.

Revelation 6:11, 7:9 refers to it as white robe. They are white having been washed in the blood of the Lamb of God. Revelation 19:7-8 gives us even more clarity.

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(Revelation 19:7-8) Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

The epistle to the Romans gives still more clarity on why these robes are white and clean and bright.

(Romans 13:13-14) Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Scripture is clear, WE ARE TO PUT ON OUR WEDDING GARMENT, just as the man without one on in Matthew 22 was to put on the wedding garment given to him.

As we read above in Romans 13:14, we are to “put on Jesus Christ [His righteous actions and life] and make no provision for the flesh. This does not mean we are saving ourselves, but that because we have received the invitation to come into the kingdom, we will abide in the commands of the king of the kingdom.

To follow a mode of theology that declares we are justified to walk around His kingdom, in real time, unclothed with the very acts that Christ ordained we walk in in salvation, is as asinine as the man in Matthew 22 refusing the garment given to him to remain in the wedding.

In order for us to put on Christ Jesus, as a garment of righteousness, we must first take off the behavior of the old man. Colossians 3 reveals this.

(Colossians 3:8-9) But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds

Colossians 3:10-11 and Ephesians 4:  reveals the acts and attitude of Christ which we are to put on.

(Colossians 3:10-11) and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

(Ephesians 4:20-24) But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

And there it is, that beautiful word, that has almost become extinct in the Church in America, seldom spoken, unless in hushed and apologetic tones… “true righteousness and holiness”.

Wearing the wedding garment provided for by our God and Father is a life of holiness, whereby when people see us, they see Christ’s actions and life, which are HOLY. Remember this is what is repeatedly commanded in the New Testament (please read I Peter 1:13-16).

Herein lies the problem for us. We have been told in error so many times that we are sinners saved by grace and no different than the lost–that we’re not perfect and sin all the time– and that focusing on holiness will only leave people to think that they can save themselves; that we have fellowships filled with people, who are still clothed in their old lives, even though they profess to know Christ.

Let us be clear, in order to put on the wedding garment of God, we must first take off the old man garment we wear, which only reveals selfishness and sin. This means we are to deny the old patterns of sin, which any sincere follower of Christ has the power in Christ to do (Romans 6:6-14).

We also must choose to put on the wedding garment and practice the appropriate washing when we sully it up through our weakness and stupidity… If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). This cleansing is twofold. In the first place, it keeps your account clean with the Lord, as if you never sinned. Secondly, it cleanses you from unrighteousness, meaning that it cleanses you of the pattern of unrighteous behavior practically. In this we find a better fit with this heavenly wedding garment.

Sadly, there are too many “Christians” who have never taken off their “old man” garment–or refuse to believe they need to put on the garment of Christ’s righteousness. This one walks around with little conviction concerning their attitude and actions and like some wedding guests expect royal service, when they have done nothing to deserve it. Still others, tried to put the garment of Christ’s righteousness overtop of the tattered and stained garment of their old life.

In both cases they will hear the words of the king, of Christ on judgment day, unless they repent “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”. 

Remember, accepting the invitation is not enough. We must be properly clothed. For those who in humility put on Christ’s righteousness, what blessing now and when He comes life eternal.

Remember, we are to put it on, not when we arrive at the wedding supper of the Lamb, but RIGHT NOW!

What is it that you are wearing?

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About Michael J Erdel

Mike is a pastor with The Assembly of God Fellowship. He is the lead pastor at Encounter Church in Fostoria Ohio. His desire is to encourage the Church of Jesus Christ, and declare God's hope through His Son Jesus, to a world which is long on excuses and short on hope. Mike has experienced the truth that when we kneel before Christ, surrendering to Him as Savior and LORD, being led and empowered by His Spirit. To Jesus Christ be all glory and honor.
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